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School safety bills get backing from education, police groups

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State lawmakers want to put more money into school safety. A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Tuesday, similar bills were introduced recently in the state House. The bills are backed by a coalition of law enforcement and education groups.

If the bills pass, how much money would be put toward things like school resource officers, more counselors in schools and building improvements would be worked out during the budget process if the bills pass. But members of the coalition say, in an ideal world, the state would put $120 million toward school safety.

“What we’re looking at is, we’re looking at a holistic approach here and not just a single prong approach,” said Blaine Koops, Executive Director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association.

Senator Margaret O’Brien,R-Portage, said improving school safety will also help the school’s surrounding neighborhoods. She is part of the bipartisan group of lawmakers.

 

“When you look at our number one threat to our kids when it comes to gun violence is in the neighborhood,” O’Brien said. “Clearly schools are a great resource to be able to help our kids so I think we can improve the safety of our schools but also help improve the safety of our neighborhoods.”

The bills don’t include more controversial ideas – like arming teachers.

Bill sponsor, Senator Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said he realizes people have different ways to address school safety, but this is the best way to get something done right now.

 

“I think it addresses the problem of making sure that we have resource officers in schools, we have counselors to deal with the problem before it becomes an issue and we’re putting our money where our mouth is and I think that’s important,” Ananich said.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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